Q: After my manager resigned, I began reporting directly to the vice president of our department. For the past few months, she has praised my outstanding performance and frequently asked for my advice. She also included me in her weekly staff meetings.
A few weeks ago, the vice president hired a new manager who is likely to become my boss. She is now consulting him instead of me. I have also been removed from the weekly meetings. No one has told me what's going on, so I'm becoming concerned about my future. Does this situation sound normal?
A: Not to worry. You're simply experiencing the turmoil that frequently follows an unexpected management departure. Having been left without a boss, you were temporarily elevated to the next level, where you found yourself assuming additional responsibilities and participating in higher-level discussions.
Now, however, the hiring of your manager's replacement has restored the previous order, leaving you to wonder where all those fun new duties went. Had anyone bothered to view this situation from your point of view, they would have realized that you deserve an explanation of the transition process. Unfortunately, no one appears to have given this any thought.
The good news, though, is that your interim reporting relationship provided a rare and valuable opportunity to impress the vice president. Having observed your talents first-hand, she is quite likely to support your advancement in the future.
To maintain this momentum, you must now concentrate on developing a strong, positive connection with your incoming boss. Since he's the one who will be writing your next performance review, you don't want any lingering resentment to contaminate that relationship.
Subhed su bhed
Q: My co-worker, "Carly," has very bad breath. If she comes into my office for even a few minutes, the odor is still there after she leaves. This is really bothering me, but I don't know how to tell her about it.
A: Hygiene issues are among the most difficult topics to discuss because they are so intensely personal. Even if Carly is aware of the problem, bringing it up would be awkward and might cause her to avoid you in the future.
Instead of raising this delicate issue yourself, consider asking your boss for help. Because managers are responsible for providing feedback, Carly may be less offended if the message comes via that route. Here's one way that your boss might begin this uncomfortable conversation:
"Carly, I need to talk with you about a sensitive matter that is somewhat difficult to discuss. However, as your manager, I feel obligated to mention it. I've noticed that at times there is a rather unusual odor on your breath. This sometimes indicates a medical problem, so I wanted to see if you were aware of it."
After that, your manager should encourage Carly to consult her doctor or dentist for advice. That will put the problem in the hands of medical professionals, which is certainly where it belongs.
Q: A few months ago, the small restaurant where I work was sold. Everything was fine at first, but then the new owner moved me from the day shift to evenings and reduced my weekly schedule from 38 hours to 15. This guy clearly doesn't like me, so the environment has become very unpleasant. Should I just give up and quit?
A: Before you walk out in frustration, remember that there are two valid reasons to remain in a difficult workplace. The first is the paycheck. The second, ironically, is that it's usually easier to find a job when you have a job. Unemployment is an automatic red flag for many interviewers.
If you decide to stay, use the extra 25 hours per week to ramp up your job search. When asked why you're seeking a new position, just give a brief description of the facts. For example: "The restaurant where I work was recently sold. My job has been made part-time, so I'm interested in finding full-time work."
Avoid the temptation to disparage your new boss, because that will only make interviewers wonder if you might be difficult to manage.